"Americas Musical Journey" Opens at the National Air and Space Museum, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and the National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Institute's picture

Starring Grammy Award-Nominated Singer and Songwriter Aloe Blacc and Narrated by Academy Award-Winning Actor Morgan Freeman

The unique cultural diversity and innovation of America’s music is celebrated in MacGillivray Freeman Films’ newest film America’s Musical Journey, opening at Smithsonian theaters Feb. 17. Produced in association with Brand USA and presented by Expedia, the new film will have its world premiere at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater Feb. 15. An extended premiere of the film will be held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Warner Bros. Theater Feb. 16. The film will open to the public Feb. 17 at both theaters and at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Airbus IMAX Theater.

Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman, the film follows Grammy Award-nominated singer and songwriter Aloe Blacc as he traces the roots of America’s music, following the footsteps of Louis Armstrong through the colorful locales and cultures where America’s music was born. Visiting such iconic cities as New Orleans, Chicago, New York City, Nashville, Memphis, Miami and more, America’s Musical Journey explores the collision of cultures that gave birth to such electrifying American art forms as jazz, the blues, country, rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop and more. As audiences join Blacc on this joyful, tune-filled tour, they will experience uniquely American adventures such as paddle-wheel boating up the Mississippi Delta, flash-mob dancing in Chicago and skydiving with Elvis impersonators over Memphis in scenes shot exclusively for the giant screen. 

Academy Award-nominated director Greg MacGillivray threads all these images together to create an immersive experience of America’s cultural diversity with a soundtrack that showcases the national passion for creative innovation at its purest. “America’s music has its roots in the diverse cultures that came together from different parts of the world, culminating in a unique blend of sound, culture and innovation unlike anywhere else in the world,” MacGillivray said. “This creativity and trailblazing spirit is what makes American music such a treasured experience around the world. I hope people are inspired to explore their own creativity after seeing the film.

“Music is an essential part of the human experience, and I look forward to helping audiences discover the unique cultural influences that gave rise to jazz, the blues, folk and other American musical genres,” Blacc said. “I love the freedom of expression in this country, which is a source of creativity and innovation unlike anywhere else.”

In addition to Blacc, audiences will meet other iconic artists, musicians and innovators who are shaping America’s culture today, including Jon Batiste, bandleader and musical director of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Latin music stars Gloria and Emilio Estefan, New Orleans music hero Dr. John, Chicago jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis, teenage banjo-playing phenomenon Willow Osborne, Memphis jookin dance star Lil Buck, the Detroit Youth Choir, Chicago footwork maestros Pause Eddie and Donnetta “Lil Bit” Jackson, the Bandaloop vertical dancers, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, the Beale Street Flippers, skydiving Elvis impersonators and many more.

“Music has the power to bring people together, especially here in America where diversity and creative freedom are such an important part of the culture,” said Shaun MacGillivray, president of MacGillivray Freeman Films. “We’re using the immersive, visual giant-screen experience to tell the story of America’s musical and cultural heritage in a new and powerful way.” 

Tickets for America’s Musical Journey are available at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater box office, the Warner Bros. Theater box office, and the Airbus IMAX Theater box office or online at www.si.edu/imax. Groups of 10 or more may reserve tickets now for any date during the film’s expected run by calling 866-868-7774 or visiting www.si.edu/groupsales. The Lockheed Martin Theater is located on the main floor of the National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The Airbus IMAX Theater is located on the main floor of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, V.A., which is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway. The Warner Bros. Theater is located on the first floor of the National Museum of American History on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which is located at 1300 Constitution Ave. N.W.

About MacGillivray Freeman Films

MacGillivray Freeman Films is the world’s foremost independent producer and distributor of giant-screen 70 mm films with 40 films for IMAX and giant-screen theatres to its credit. Throughout the company’s 50-year history, its films have won numerous international awards including two Academy Award nominations and three films inducted into the IMAX Hall of Fame. MacGillivray Freeman’s films are known for their artistry and celebration of science and the natural world. It is the first documentary film company to reach the $1 billion benchmark for worldwide box office. www.macgillivrayfreemanfilms.com.

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